Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors


Individually Designed

First Advisor

Dr. Cheryl Morse


sugarbush, working landscape, maple, ethnography, autoethnography, natural history


Maple syrup is a central aspect of Vermont’s identity, much-studied as a cultural, economic, and culinary object. However, the sugarbush, the landscape which produces the sap that is boiled into syrup, has received relatively scant attention outside of the realm of forest management. This undergraduate thesis study uses the observational research methods of natural history, ethnography, and autoethnography to examine one sugarbush in northern Vermont, seeking to model a holistic approach to the interdisciplinary analysis of “working landscapes” that are shaped by both anthropogenic and natural processes. The natural history section of this study finds that human action is just one of many forces that come together to produce the landscape of the sugarbush. The study’s use of ethnography reveals that the sugarbush is composed of what I term “contact points,” places where human and nonhuman actors contaminate each other and translate each other’s actions into mutually intelligible forms. My autoethnographic exploration of the sugarbush emphasizes the phenomenology of the landscape, revealing it as a space that is at once sensuous and psychological. I argue that the use of these methods in tandem generates valuable insights and could serve as a model for future studies of other landscapes.